The banquet is prepared and those that work to no end and without tire humbly provide a grand service. How fitting for the honored guests to be seated at the table to enjoy the succulent pig! The wine has been properly poured, the name placards bear the identification of those present, and the music is just about to begin. The servers circle around the hall with eyes on emptying plates and glasses. It must be done. The people must be fed.
Some may be offended at the notion that we should serve with reverence; some of us would rather be seated among the fine linens and polished silver. Some may say that serving people is just a dirty job. They may be right. But what about serving at the table of the Lord? What about serving fellow man/woman in the streets and how do we do it without faltering in spirit or passion? Christ speaks of this with His words and with His life. His example is exemplary in this matter. St Paul tells us:
“Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Heb. 5:7)
This sounds like work to me. It screams of passion and undying service. This Holy testament of service represents a requirement for all “Priests of the Order of Melchizedek”. And if it is not known, the designation of the Order of the Priests of Melchizedek are dually assigned to all Christians, including ordained clergy. We all serve and share in this honor. Who do we serve you may ask? We serve each other. We look after each other with reverence for the Holy One’s decrees. We serve those whom suffer through the tribulations of the current day, Christian or not. We do this with confidence. But this is difficult! We live in an age of self. We purposely place our self worth in “things” and not people. Blindly we walk into that grocery store for the best tenderloin but rarely do we notice that we just broke in line to get it! OK, some may be observant…but some are not. But to pay it forward often requires the hindsight of the future; we must be aware before we do something in an attempt to avoid causing duress to someone else. Do we not sacrifice our own self if we desire to serve the table? Christ learned an obedience in His human will and therefore teaches us to do the same.
To lead is to serve. To serve is to suffer and to suffer is to praise God in our actions and not only our words. True greatness is to serve and to do it without a complaint and often times without being noticed. The disciples state that “they are able” to drink of His cup and be baptized like Him. But doesn’t Christ remind us that such a request to be seated at His side can only be seen as a request for temporal power? Does this not remind us that earthly desires such as this are not of HIS father, but of the earth? Jesus makes it clear:
“To sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (Mk 10:40).
Such places of position and status are not His to give in this manner. Of course this is not to say that He does not have the authority. He does! But these places may be designated to ones that those seats have been prepared for. St. John Chrysostom reveals to us that these places may be for such people as the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. It is impossible for us to really know and to anticipate whom Christ was referring to. But we do know that Jesus was speaking of someone else than His immediate disciples. This conversation could also get into some very heavy Christology. Let’s just stop at that. One thing is for sure, Christ made it clear:
“You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (Mk 10:42-43)
I beg of you to observe gently expressions of kindness and service among your fellows and I entreat you to mimic them. Pay it forward, serve and bless, and live to serve again.